Essay Sayings and Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old essay quotes, essay sayings, and essay proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.


The whole movement of an essay is propelled by a fundamentally human impulse to want to figure things out.     

John D'Agata

The point of the essay is to change things.     

Edward Tufte

Writing a long essay is probably the most complex constructive act that most human beings areever expected to perform.     

Carl Bereiter

An essay is something that tracks the evolution of a human mind.     

John D'Agata

An essay is a work of literary art which has a minimum of one anecdote and one universal idea.     

Carol Bly

A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out.     

Virginia Woolf

Fiction and essays can create empathy for the theoretical stranger.     

Barbara Kingsolver

The best essays come from the moment in which people really need to work something out.     

Marilynne Robinson

The essay must be artistically rendered: You must keep the reader engaged, whether with wit, conflict, mischief, and/or yes, with honesty.     

Phillip Lopate

There is no room for the impurities of literature in an essay.     

Virginia Woolf

The law of the innermost form of the essay is heresy.     

Theodor W. Adorno

Most good essays are conversations with yourself - not just your decided thoughts but your dilemmas.     

Phillip Lopate

The essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything.     

Aldous Huxley

Essays, entitled critical, are epistles addressed to the public, through which the mind of the recluse relieves itself of its impressions.     

Margaret Fuller

All the best essays are epistemological journeys from ignorance or curiosity to knowledge.     

Geoff Dyer